Red Flag Canal: The spirit of China captured in a legendary waterway
Updated 16:17, 18-Sep-2019
For anyone who has witnessed the economic growth of China over the past few decades, one question may arise: How has China done it? Our reporter Ning Hong visited a famous artificial construction, the Red Flag Canal, which was built by the people of Lin Zhou in Henan Province during the early years of New China.
It all started with a simple choice made in 1960, building a 70-kilometer canal to solve the drought that plagued the people of Lin Zhou for centuries. The project was spearheaded by a new 27-year-old party secretary, and the plan was to build it in a hundred days. If only it were that simple.
ZHANG MAIJIANG, BUILDER OF RED FLAG CANAL LIN ZHOU, HENAN PROVINCE "We had a saying then, a hundred-days of hard work, for the water from the Zhang River, we will rearrange the rivers and mountains. However, a dozen days after we started, some people still thought the bottom of canal was the top."
Another heavy blow was the death of the canal's designer. Wu Zutai died in a tunnel collapse at the age of 27, only a month into the project.
PROFESSOR ZHOU RUICHANG HONGQIQU EXECUTIVE LEADERSHIP ACADEMY "The Red Flag Canal started from revolutionary romanticism. In the 1950s the whole country was shrouded in an exciting, passionate idealism, and people thought that they could make any achievement. But when they went up the hill, they realized it's not like that."
People only had simple tools in their hands. A famine was unfolding across the country; many people that worked on the site were starving. Yet, people still decided to carry on. Zhang Maijiang was the youngest worker then. He joined the workforce at 13, replacing his father who died in an accident.
ZHANG MAIJIANG, BUILDER OF RED FLAG CANAL LIN ZHOU, HENAN PROVINCE "My mother sent me to the canal herself. People in Lin Zhou believed the canal was for the people."
Zhang spent the next eight years working among the Taihang Mountains.
NING HONG LIN ZHOU, HENAN PROVINCE "The most difficult part was to carve the canal on the cliffs of the Mountains. People used to work, eat and sleep here for years. Nearly a hundred thousand people spent a decade finishing this project."
81 people gave their lives to the canal, the youngest only 17 years old. The project was finally finished in 1969, about 10 years after it began. The water helped to increase food production in Lin Zhou tenfold. Still today, it is a scenic spot where groups of party members seek the spirit of party predecessors.
PROFESSOR ZHOU RUICHANG HONGQIQU EXECUTIVE LEADERSHIP ACADEMY "The spirit of the red flag canal is seeking truth from facts, and having the courage to think and act. We now have advanced technology, better lives and a powerful nation, If people today could still have the passion and spirit of that age, what China would be like?"
When the water of the canal reached Zhang's village, he carried the first bucket of water home. In the next few decades, the canal was extended to 1500 kilometers long. Ning Hong, CGTN, Lin Zhou.